At the beginning of the 2013 season, we gathered all the IPL writers together (okay, we emailed everybody) and made a few predictions about the upcoming season. Let’s see how we did.
1. Where will the Indians finish in the AL Central?
The majority of us correctly predicted 2nd place (and thought we were being optimistic). David was the most optimist and predicted we’d finish 1st (and we ended up just a game behind Detroit–it was closer than any of us dreamed). Justin, Ryan P., and Vern said 3rd.
2. What will their win/loss record be?
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, the Cleveland Indians finished the season at 92-70. Like most fans, every single one of us underestimated the Tribe’s final win-loss record. Number of predicted wins ranged from 80-87, with only David predicting more than 90 wins (he said 91).
3. Who will make the All-Star team?
The Indians sent Jason Kipnis and Justin Masterson to the All-Star Game. Justin, Adam, and Matt all had him on their lists. Only David mentioned Masterson. Eight of us thought Carlos Santana would have ended up in the mid-season classic, 7 of us had equally high hopes for Asdrubal Cabrera; 4 of us predicted Chris Perez would be an All-Star again, Michael Bourn had 2 votes, and Lonnie Chisenhall had a wishful vote.
4. At the end of the year, who will be the team’s MVP?
We had four votes for Santana, three for Nick Swisher, 2 for Michael Bourn, and one each for Cabrera, Kipnis, and Masterson. Note that none of us named Ubaldo Jimenez, and he’d arguably be the most likely candidate if you had to pick just one. But the magic of the team this season was that perhaps you can’t pick just one. Terry Francona said it best: “I’ve been asked so many times `Who’s your MVP?’ I don’t know that we have one,” Francona said. “I could name probably 15, 16, 17 guys who if they weren’t on our team, we wouldn’t be here. I don’t know if a lot of teams can do that. We don’t have the 100-RBI guy. We don’t have the 20-game winner, but you start going through the list, we would not be where we are.”
5. If there’s a demotion or an injury to a pitcher in the starting staff, who gets the first call-up from Columbus to replace them?
We had four votes for Carlos Carrasco, three for Trevor Bauer, two for Daisuke Matsuzaka, two for Corey Kluber, and Joe picked the dark horse Matt Capps. I had to go back through the Indians official press releases to confirm my memory, but Bauer was indeed the first call-up; he was recalled April 6 when Scott Kazmir went on the 15-day disabled. list. Although Corey Kluber established himself as a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter this season, it’s hard to remember that he was not on the Opening Day roster. Kluber was promoted on April 10 when Carrasco was sent down.
6. Will Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez still be Cleveland Indians at the end of the season?
Well, they both finished the regular season with the team. Sam had predicted that Perez would be traded, while Vern said neither would still be here. Everybody else had a variation on “I hope not” or “It depends on whether we’re in contention” (and we were!) or “It will happen in the off season.” As a side note, apparently none of us thought that Mark Reynolds would be gone mid-season.
7. Who will be the biggest disappointment?
Sam, Adam, Justin, Ryan P., and David all said Brett Myers. Myers made four appearances, went 0-3, and had an 8.02 ERA. He spent the majority of his time on the DL and was released by the Indians near the end of August. You could easily make the case that those five were right. We also had two votes for Drew Stubbs, one for Jason Giambi, one for Jason Kipnis, one for Trevor Bauer, and two for Ubaldo Jimenez. (You know who you are.)
8. Which player will be the most pleasant surprise?
Three IPL writers voted for Jimenez (although Matt just said Jimenez “will not be the worst pitcher in baseball this year,” which is technically correct but not a ringing endorsement), 3 for Lonnie Chisenhall, 2 for Scott Kazmir (maybe two and a half, because Adam said, “Kazmir is too easy of a choice” and opted for Giambi), 1 for Trevor Bauer, and 1 for Justin Masterson. Personally (and not only because I voted Kazmir), I think Jimenez and Kazmir are probably tied for this one. Both of them could have gone either way, and they went big, good, and, at times, great.
9. Will any of the Indians receive votes for league-wide awards like the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year? If so, name them.
We’ll have to revisit this question after awards season, but 7 of us thought Trevor Bauer was going to come up, stick around, and get votes for Rookie of the Year. We can safely say that won’t happen. Cody Allen, who didn’t really seem to be on any of our radars, has been talked about as a possible RoY contender. Wouldn’t that be a trip? A couple of us also thought Francona could feasibly get some Manager of the Year votes (and he may yet get them).
10. Who will lead the team in home runs?
Eight of us thought it’d be Mark Reynolds, 3 voted Swisher, and 1 voted Santana. For the record, Nick Swisher led the team with 22 home runs; Carlos Santana had 20, Jason Kipnis had 17, Ryan Raburn (who thought about him in the pre-season?) had 16, and Mark Reynolds had 15. Note that Raburn only had 243 plate appearances vs. Swisher’s 549. If we could just teach Raburn to play third base…
11. Which pitcher will lead the team in wins?
Nine of us said Justin Masterson, who was the obvious choice.. Ryan M. also correctly predicted Masterson’s 14 wins. Chris and Joe went with Zach McAllister (who ended up with 9 wins), and Stephanie went rogue and voted for Jimenez (who ended up with 13 wins). Rounding out the starting rotation, Corey Kluber had 11 wins and Scott Kazmir had 10.
12. Who will win the AL Central?
Everyone but David (who turns out to be even more of an optimist than I) went with Detroit. David picked the Indians to finish first, and he wasn’t far off. We did finish just 1 game behind Detroit.
13. Any wild predictions you want to make not mentioned above?
Some of us had small portions correct. I regret to say that my prediction of a on-field invasion during a game was not correct. However, we did have a live chicken make an appearance during batting practice. That’s got to count for something.